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BlackBerry’s head of BBM has left the company

Toronto, Dec. 01/2010 - A Blackberry photographed with the application Kik Messenger in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo By Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The head of BlackBerry Messanger, one of BlackBerry's most successful products, has left the company.

"I can confirm that Andrew Bocking... has made the decision to leave BlackBerry. We thank him for his years of leadership and contribution," said BlackBerry spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger.

Mr. Bocking's exit is the latest in a series of executive departures at BlackBerry over the past year, and comes at a time when the company is undergoing a transition to a much leaner, enterprise-focused company, under the leadership of new CEO John Chen.

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The technology news site BGR was the first to report Mr. Bocking's departure.

With more than 80 million users, BBM has become one of the shining success stories at a company that has otherwise struggled in many consumer-focused segments of the mobile market. Recently, BlackBerry released versions of the BBM software for phones other than BlackBerrys. The move instantly and greatly increased the messaging software's appeal, but is not without risk, as the availability of BBM on non-BlackBerry devices may make it less likely for fans of the software to bother buying BlackBerrys in the first place.

Despite its popularity, BBM still generates almost no profit for the company – mostly because BlackBerry has yet to monetize the software with large-scale ads, subscription fees or other revenue models. Indeed, the company's top executives don't expect BBM is likely to generate meaningful revenue for the next two years.

Recently, BlackBerry has tried to focus on the social and brand-building potential of its software, positioning the software as a means for companies to communicate more directly with customers.

"The BBM organization remains as a group within BlackBerry and will continue to focus on BlackBerry and BBM strength in messaging and new areas of strength such as mobile marketing, community-building and enterprise messaging," Ms. Freiburger said.

John Sims, president of BlackBerry's Global Enterprise Solutions group, who the company says has extensive experience in mobile messaging, will add the BBM team to his group, according to Ms. Freiburger.

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